Listening Advice for Healthcare Peer Interviews

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post continues our series of patient experience best practices from the HealthStream Engagement Institute. Every week we share information that demonstrates our expansive understanding of the challenges faced by healthcare organizations and the solutions we have identified for improving the patient experience and patient and business outcomes.

Peer interviews are most successful when participants focus on their listening. You might tend to think that listening to the spoken word requires no effort—that it is a passive activity. The opposite is true. Listening is an active process that requires your participation. Active listening means that you give full attention to the other person, putting aside your need to reply, concentrating instead on what you’re hearing. A good interviewer is, in fact, a very good listener.

Effective Listening Habits

Ridding yourself of bad listening habits and acquiring positive listening skills will enrich your life in many ways, both on the job and in your personal environment. Practice the following behaviors for effective listening:

  1. Pay Attention. If you really want to be a good listener, force yourself to pay active attention to the speaker. When that person is a dull conversationalist, you must sometimes exert effort to keep from being distracted by other things. It is important not only to focus on the speaker, but also to use nonverbal signs (such as eye contact, head nods, and smiles) to let that person know he/she is being heard.
  2. Listen for the Whole Message. This includes looking for meaning, consistency, or congruence in both the verbal and nonverbal messages; and listening for ideas, feelings, and intentions, as well as facts. It also includes hearing things which are unpleasant or unwelcome.
  3. Hear Before Evaluating. Listen to what someone says without drawing premature conclusions. Then question the speaker in a non-accusing manner, rather than giving advice or judging. This can uncover exactly what that person has in mind, which many times is quite different from what you had assumed. Suspend judgment.
  4. Paraphrase What Was Heard. If you paraphrase the words of the speaker in a non-judgmental manner, and ask if that is what was meant, many misunderstandings and misinterpretations can be avoided.
  5. Listen with Empathy. Putting oneself into the other person’s shoes is an effective way of deepening the conversation and building trust. Empathy is especially powerful when it is reflected or expressed back to the speaker. It says to the speaker, “I hear you and understand your views/feelings.” When others can feel your empathy, they are often more willing to explore alternate views and opinions.


About the Best Practice Series

We are pleased to share the best practices developed by our expert coaches from the HealthStream Engagement Institute. This series of how-to publications offers proven techniques, key words and phrases, and processes to help you transform your culture to one of high performance.

Our Best Practices Series, based on employee-developed and employee-managed practices and programs, includes the following:

  • Hourly Rounding
  • Reward and Recognition
  • Peer Interviewing
  • Bright Ideas™
  • Purposeful Rounding
  • Words that WorkSM
  • Service Recovery
  • Standards of Performance

Our goal for this collection is to offer you even more tools to achieve extraordinary service and higher levels of performance excellence.

Learn more about the services offered by the HealthStream Engagement Institute.